While there may not be that many true centers in the WCC, or in college basketball for that matter, someone has to fill the position and these guys fill that role better than everyone else in the league.
Some are incredibly creative around the basket. Others protect the paint extremely well. Hell, some can even stretch a defense out to the three-point line.
This also marks the end of the position Top 5s. Next week begins the Top 25, beginning with Nos. 21-25. Some of the players will obviously overlap but there may be some left out.
April 30: Top 5 Point Guards
May 7: Top 5 Shooting Guards
May 14: Top 5 Guard/Forwards
May 21: Top 5 Power Forwards
Today: Top 5 Centers
June 4: WCC’s Best – Nos. 21-25
June 11: WCC’s Best – Nos. 16-20
June 18: WCC’s Best – Nos. 11-15
June 25: WCC’s Best – Nos. 6-10
July 2: WCC’s Best – Nos. 1-5
In any case, let’s get to the centers:
5. Godwin Okonji
2011-12 stats: 3.7 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 0.9 bpg, 0.8 spg, .479 FG, .589 FT
While his numbers are not that impressive, when he is on the court you notice Okonji.
His defense in the paint has been a big part of the LMU resurgence.
Wins at BYU and Saint Mary’s stamped how lethal the Lions could be. In the win at Saint Mary’s, Okonji held Waldow (on this list) to five points.
In two meetings with USF, he scored a total of eight points but chipped in in other ways. He had four blocks and four steals.
While his contributions aren’t always noticeable in a box score, he is critical for LMU.
4. Thomas van der Mars
2011-12 stats: 7.7 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 0.7 apg, .0.9 bpg, .537 FG, .627 FT
He might just be the only true center of the bunch. The 6-foot-11 freshman burst onto the scene and was impressive.
Van der Mars’ best stretch was a six-game span where he scored in double figures in four times, including an 18-point, seven rebound game at Saint Mary’s.
His slender frame got him pushed around a bit but as he gets older, that should fix itself.
Although, van der Mars had his struggles offensively. He ending the season by going a month without scoring in double figures.
Despite the scoring difficulties, he still found ways to contribute. In four of his last five games, he grabbed at least six rebounds, better than his season average.
3. Brad Waldow
2011-12 stats: 8.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 1.0 bpg, 0.4 apg, .667 FG, .505 FT
Saint Mary’s has little problem scoring and were already a strong team and anything they got from the center position was going to make them that much more difficult to stop.
That said no young center last season changed the dynamic of his team like Waldow.
When he scored in double figures, the Gaels were near unstoppable. His touch and skill on the offensive end and ability to protect the basket is remeniscent of Omar Samhan.
His eight points and block per game happens in a mere 15 minutes per game. What do you think will happen when he get more playing time?
2. Marc Trasolini
2010-11 stats: 12.8 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 0.9 bpg, 0.8 apg, .523 FG, .310 3PT, .745 FT
Did not play 2011-12
Santa Clara had high hopes heading into the 2011-12 season but that was before Trasolini went down with a torn ACL on a team trip to his native Canada.
Now with a clean bill of health, Trasolini returns with every other member of last year’s team and gives the Broncos an experienced, legit big man.
Trasolini is a threat to score from inside and outside, a skill few big men in the country have.
His performances started to show that potency. As the 2010-11 season came to a close, Trasolini averaged more than 16 points per game in the last nine games, including a stretch of four straight with 20 or more.
1. Sam Dower
2011-12 stats: 8.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 0.6 apg, 0.5 spg, .538 FG, .400 3PT, .767 FT
Many may forget about Dower because he was overshadowed by now-graduated center Robert Sacre.
But how lethal Dower can be cannot be understated.
He is one of the few big men in the conference that can hurt you underneath the basket and, every now and then, get you from three-point range.
He is also incredibly efficient.
In 15 minutes against Saint Mary’s in the WCC Tournament, he had 14 points. Even better was his 20 point-10 rebound performance against Xavier when he only played 22 minutes.
When on, he could be the best in the league.
Follow Zack Farmer on Twitter: @ZFarmerExaminer